Sunday, June 30, 2019

Falkner Winery
(Mediterranean Lunch and Wine Tasting)

Dave and Lindsay invited us to the Falkner Winery for their Mediterranean Lunch and Wine Tasting that is reserved for Wine Club Members. Falkner is the the first winery I ever visited in Temecula so it was great to go back and eat at The Pinnacle Restaurant for the first time.



Downstairs in the Barrel Room, we started right away tasting the selection of library wines for the event. Out of the 12, I ended up drinking the 9 listed below, skipping the 2008 & 2011 Syrah's and missing out on the 2012 Cachet.

2006, 2010 & 2013 Library Amante
2009 & 2012 Library Reserve Sangiovese
2005 Library Syrah & 2015 Reserve Syrah
2014 Library Cachet
2006 Library Port

The 2006 Library Amante was my favorite and the 2006 Port was delicious with my dessert. I ended up have two of my glasses aerated with the Wake Up Wine electronic decanter, the 2009 Reserve Sangiovese and 2005 Syrah. It was amazing the difference in taste after one minute of vibration in the decanter.





All four courses prepared by Executive Chef Jason Barradas were so delicious! Our first was the Mediterranean Bruschetta - Buttered Pan-Fried Shrimp with Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, Avocado, Cilantro and a Remoulade Aioli on a Garlic Ciabatta Crostini. I ate it very slowly since it was so tasty!


Grilled Peach Salad - Fresh Grilled Peaches with Local Arugula, Burrata Cheese, Pine Nuts and Thin Sliced Prosciutto, Balsamic Reduction Dressing


Grilled Lamb Chops with Mint-Mascarpone Pesto, Herbed Carrots, and Roasted Baby Potatoes. Since my wife doesn't eat red meat, they were kind enough to substitute Chicken for the four of us. The others at the table who had the lamb said it was delicious.


Strawberry Panna Cotta with Mint Chocolate Sauce, Fresh Berries, and Crumbled Pistachios. I have never had this Italian dessert which means "Cooked Cream" but I will surely order it in the future!


 After our lunch ended, we walked over to the original wine tasting room and relaxed out on the back lawn. It was a nice balmy day as I tried their Merlot for my 10th and last tasting of the day!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Beacons Beach Sunset (Plus Rainbow)

Tonight was the prettiest sunset I have ever seen in San Diego. I took several photos of the changing colors filtering through the multiple layers of clouds drifting over the ocean. No filters or enhancements were added to any of the photos below.





Not only was the sun painting colors across the clouds, but the radiant light created a giant double Rainbow to the East. As the hidden sun neared the horizon, an intense orange light slowly filled the sky like a giant fire. As the sky darkened, the colors slowly faded over the Wine Dark Sea.





My only sadness is that Tori missed it all since she was feeling under the weather. No pun intended.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Born and Raised Steakhouse
(Celebrating 26 Years at H&P)

On Saturday, Louise and Doug took my wife and I out to dinner to celebrate my 25+ years working at H&P Mobile Geochemistry. I started working for the company when I was only 21 years old. We went to Born and Raised, a steakhouse in Little Italy that Tori and I had walked by several times in the past. We started out with drinks on the rooftop bar with views of San Diego Bay and the surrounding neighborhood before going downstairs to our reserved table.





It felt like we were on the set of Mad Men as we sat beneath the spreading wooden pillars bound by leather straps. To start, we ordered the tasty bread and splurged on a fancy bottle of 2015 Soul of a Lion by Daou Vineyards in Paso Robles, a Cabernet Sauvignon varietal with small blends of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. We really enjoyed this dark wine with an intense flavor that was not too fruity, dry or acidic. Our shared dish was the Beef Tartar, prepared tableside and served with toasted brioche.





We all ordered the Caesar Salad with anchovies. As our server prepared and let us taste the dressing he made from scratch at our table, he taught us the history of the local salad invented across the border in Tijuana during the Prohibition. Tori ordered the Butter-Poached Lobster while the rest of us ordered steaks. I was tempted to get one of the dry-aged cuts like Doug, but I couldn't resist the unique show of a flambéed steak. As Pierre prepared my Steak Diane in the sauce pan, he warned me before adding the alcohol so I took great photos of the bright flames roaring toward the ceiling. The rest of the food arrived right after my plate was set down in front of me. We shared the Robuchon Potato and Dirty Hashbrowns.





Afterwards, we walked down the street and waited in line for ice cream at Salt and Straw. The "Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons" is my favorite, but "Salted, Malted, Chocolate Cookie Dough" is a strong second. Who would have thought ice cream that tasted like salt would be so awesome. I also enjoy trying all the crazy seasonal flavors.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Escondido Wine Region (Espinosa Vineyards
and Cordiano Winery)

Tori and I had Friday off from work so we drove out to the Escondido Wine Region located on the hilltop along the San Pasqual Valley Agricultural Preserve. Our first stop was Espinosa Vineyards where we had tastings poured by the husband and wife owners. It was a beautiful day as we sat in their pleasant garden and sipped the five selections. They grow mainly native grapes from Spain but they also make wines from grapes they purchase throughout California. We purchased a bottle of our favorite, the 2016 Syrah with grapes from Santa Rita Hills. They were preparing for a pop-up dinner provided by an outside chef that sounded really tasty, but we already had reservations at Cordiano.





We originally planned to walk between four of the wine tasting rooms that sit within 1.5 miles of each other on Bandy Canyon and Highland Valley roads but the shoulders of the winding streets were too narrow to walk safely. It would be awesome if there was a hiking trail between the hilltop wineries. Since we had to drive, we skipped the two wineries in the middle and went straight to Cordiano Winery for another wine tasting and food. Cordiano has an awesome view of the surrounding farms from their terrace. We hung out for a few hours, eating pizza and trying 7 different tastings from their large selection of wines.





On Saturday, we also tried out Salud, a San Diego Taco Company in Barrio Logan that we have been wanting to try. We first saw it when we stayed Downtown in January for our anniversary, but we had to skip it since we already had reservations for dinner. We arrived before the line became too long and ordered seven different tacos. All of them were awesome and their side order of pinto beans were super tasty. Both of our favorites was the Califas Taco with Carnitas for me and Pollo Asado for Tori. I really enjoyed the Spiked Horchata mixed with Fireball!




Monday, May 27, 2019

Flying Trapeze (Bar-to-Bar Rig)

At the Memorial Day BBQ, it was my first time flying on the new Bar-to-Bar Rig at Trapeze High. Instead of throwing a trick to a Catcher, a Flyer attempts to grab the second swinging bar and cross over to the pedestal on the opposite side of the rig. Taking off from the second rise, I was able to swing over to the 2nd bar from a Knee Hang. Very Fun! Maybe next time, I can try it with the Splits.



Here are the photos I took of Cami, Kenny, Cindy and Tommy flying Bar-to-Bar with Splits, Straight Jumps and Knee Hangs.






Sunday, May 26, 2019

Elfin Forest Hike (Olivenhain Reservoir)

Yesterday, we went hiking in the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve. From the parking lot, the trail heads straight up a tall ridge on the aptly-named Way Up Trail. Dogs are allowed on the trail as well as Mountain Bikes. We quickly moved out of the way of several bikes working their way down the steep and rocky trail. Pedestrians have right-of-way but we didn't want the riders to hurt themselves trying to stop in an awkward or dangerous spot.





After stopping at the Harmony Grove Overlook at the half way point, we crossed over the ridge and reached the Ridgetop Picnic Area that sits at 1,140 feet and has views of the Olivenhain Reservoir. The dam was started in 2000 and completed in 2003. (318 feet tall and 2,400 feet wide) It is a emergency storage reservoir that is filled with fresh water from the CA Aqueduct and Lake Hodges. It holds 7.8 billion gallons of water, enough water for 192,000 people for a year.





While we only hiked up and down the 1.41 mile Way Up Trail, the reserve has over 11 miles of trails that almost circle the Olivenhain Reservoir with views down to Lake Hodges on the far side. We are definitely coming back to hike some of the other trails, including the Biological Trail, an alternate route up to the ridge that merges with the Way Up Trail after a half mile.





The Escondido Creek that crosses the trailhead flows year round from Lake Wolford. After our rainy winter and spring, it was pretty full. The Elfin Forest Recreation Reserve closes a half hour before sunset.